What makes up a healthy team?

Obviously this is our goal if we lead or even serve on a team. Who would want to serve on an unhealthy team? Talk about wasting time.

And, we’ve all been there. It may be a permanent team or a temporary team, but we’ve all served on teams, which simply weren’t productive. The team didn’t gel as a group. There wasn’t a chemistry and nothing really gets accomplished. If it does it’s not necessarily through a team effort. Some pull their weight and others don’t. Some weigh in on decisions. Some never do: either by choice or by organizational design.

Unhealthy.

But, what are common elements in all the healthy teams?

Here are 5 of which I’ve observed:

Agreed upon mission

Everyone knows where the organization ultimately wants to go and do. People can recognize what a win looks like enough there is shared celebration when points are scored or progress is made. (For the church this really shouldn’t be that difficult. God has made our purpose clear.)

People have to be reminded of this continually. It’s amazing how fast we lose focus. To do this we have to use common words and share lots of stories, which remind us why we do what we do.

The right people are on the team

The people on the team are the correct fit for the role they have been assigned and have the proper training to complete their assignment. Plus, and more importantly, they want to be there.

And, in fairness, sometimes this isn’t the people, but how the team is structured, led and how often it meets.

Ample resources exist

Regardless of the awesomeness of a team, if the team lacks adequate resources it will never achieve its full potential. Take it from a former small business owner – no matter how good your employees are cash is king in the business world.

Sometimes there are external factors, which naturally impact the health of a team. The job of leaders during this time is to pull the team together, refocus around the mission and draw strength from one another. (That’s why it’s called a team.)

A consistent and reasonable pace

Healthy teams can’t move too fast or they burnout. If they move to slow they stagnate. There will always be highs and lows with any team, but healthy teams find the right balance for the team and find ways to continue to grow.

This is incredibly important in today’s mega fast culture. We have to keep up in terms of progress and innovation, but we can’t do it at the expense of good people. The wise leader today is looking for better ways to refresh and encourage people. The environment, in which the team operates, is more important than it ever has been in my leadership.

Proper accountability

Teams fail when no one holds the members accountable for success. There are very few people who can continue to function well without a structure in place to insure consistent progress.

In creating healthy environments we often leave accountability behind, but it’s actually more important – not less. People may set their own hours and workplaces may have more “fun” moments added to the day, but healthy teams remain healthy when people know they are teaching expectations. They may not ask for it, but when it’s not there they miss it and the team dynamics suffer.

Teams reach their full potential when we strive to make them healthy. It’s not easy. It’s even messy at times, but it certainly makes life better for everyone.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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